I first caught wind of Skeletonwitch while they were supporting Municipal Waste on their 2nd album, Beyond the Permafrost’s tour. Normally (with a few prominent exceptions), I can’t stand the screeching growl as a vocal styling, but it works so perfectly with Skeletonwitch. Chance Garnett’s voice is not only the perfect and brutal contrast to the band’s ridiculously melodic Thrash guitar assault, but gives the band’s lyrcs a horrifically cinematic quality that for a Metal and Horror junkie like me, is hard not to get sucked into. I’ve been really looking forward to this album and it’s kept me company as my go to slice of Thrash as we traveled across Asia for the past two weeks.
Breathing the Fire is a marked step in the maturation of this young and mighty band. While Beyond the Permafrost solidly introduced us to an exciting new voice in metal, many of it’s tracks were hard to distinguish from one another, that is no longer the case here. While carrying over their formula of short & sweet song structures, Skeletonwitch avoid the trap of over-indulgence that would seem almost unavoidable on route to cramming in some of the catchiest, yet pulverizing Thrash you’ll ever come across in 3-minute bursts. Riffs (“Where The Light Has Failed”) and melodies (“Submit To The Suffering”) dance around in your head while the drums (“…And Into The Flame”) beat them permanently into your skull. And as strong as their use of melody is here, it’s the band’s refinement on control that really makes the fruits of their labor ripe and sweet.
Breathing the Fire is a testament to a band that has greatly grown as songwriters, but lost none of their gruesome edge. That goes a long way in crafting a more poignant blend of their signature stew of Thrash, Death & Black Metal. It’s rare for a Metal album to respects it’s roots and elders without coming off as pure revivalism, but that isn’t the case here as Skeletonwitch weave decades of Metal into one of the most interesting and original Thrash bands of this short millennium.